At E3 2019, we were treated to 50 minutes worth of gameplay on the brand new PC build of Cyberpunk 2077. As usual, the hands-off demo footage shown is a work in progress build, seeing as how Cyberpunk 2077 is only slated for release on April 16, 2020.
Cyberpunk 2077 is narrative-driven, first-person, open-world action RPG adapted from the 1988 tabletop game Cyberpunk 2020, and it is set 57 years later in a futuristic metropolis in California known as Night City.
The demo is set in the Pacifica district of Night City, which was initially conceived to be a luxurious destination but investors have pulled out since, and left the district in disarray. Even the police have abandoned the place, and gangs have taken over, making Pacifica one of the most dangerous districts in Night City.
#1. Character backgrounds & customization
The demo starts off showing off the character customization screen, where we are treated with the familiar UI where the protagonist, V can be fully customized with the usual choices of sex, body type, hairstyle, skin colour, clothing, and since it is an RPG, the usual starting stats to suit the player’s play style. There’s even surface wiring to choose from to give your character that badass cyberpunk look. Think of it as a cyber equivalent of the usual facial scars in RPG character creation screens.
The player will get to choose from three different backgrounds – Street Kid, Nomad or Corporate. The choice of background will open up a different set of dialogue options throughout the game. For example, as a street kid, you would be presented with the dialogue option to see through an NPC’s scam and take a dodge at getting fooled.
#2. Keanu Reeves is Johnny Silverhand, a ghostly hologram
V has been implanted involuntarily with a mysterious but faulty biochip that supposedly holds the secret to immortality. Along with the chip comes with a hologram “hallucination” or “glitch” of sorts in the form of Johnny Silverhand, played by the ever charming Keanu Reeves, who will appear at random points throughout the game providing the V with commentary and pushing him along in the story. Though details are hazy at the moment, Silverhand looks to play a key role in unraveling the mystery of the biochip, while injecting some much needed crude and funny dialogue into the narrative throughout the game.
One such example can be seen once the character creation is done during the demo. Silverhand is seen leaning impatiently against the wall and exclaims, “Come on, you really think they give a rat’s dick about how you look?”
#3. There are no loading screens
The player can travel across the whole world, in and out of buildings, from zone to zone, seamlessly and freely. Loading screens won’t exist in Cyberpunk 2077 at all. Take that, Anthem.
#4. There is a third person view, but only when driving vehicles
At last year’s E3 gameplay demo, a Quadra supercar was shown. This time, V gets to ride the futuristic Yaibi Kusanagi motorcycle. It’s the same one as featured in statue form in the Collector’s Edition of the game. While riding, players can tune in to in-game radio stations to suit their preference and this is the only time players can swap between first person or third person view. We did notice that there is also a “combat mode” available when riding the motorcycle. Our best guess that it probably just gets V to whip out his handgun to aim and fire while driving.
But our inner geek wished it would transform the motorcycle into some form of battle mode and lay waste to V’s adversaries. We’re thinking Batman Arkham Knight’s batmobile tank mode, which would be cool if the motorcycle and the other vehicles V will be driving on in the game. Unfortunately, no details were shared by CDPR if vehicles will be upgradeable or not.
#5. Plenty of hacking fun to be had for a stealth run
This year’s demo also focused on showing off the stealth aspects and hacking (also known as netrunning). The hacking mechanics shown in the demo aren’t exactly ground-breaking. There’s the typical hacking of doors via a minigame, hacking of turrets and hacking of enemies’ biochips to shut them down.
Spotted a drink machine next to some guards? Simply hack it to drop cans of soda to distract the guards, and V can easily take them out with his monowire (laser cord weapon). Came across a gang member in a boxing ring with a training bot? Hack the bot from a distance to crank up its difficulty setting, and knock him out cold. Even a gang member doing bench presses isn’t spared. V can hack the gym equipment to up its weight, causing the barbell to on the gang member’s neck, killing him instantly. This allows for some pretty creative approaches to bypassing/taking out enemies in the game.
If stealth isn’t your thing, there is always the option of going all out with brute force. For players who have specced out their characters with strength and powerful cyborg arm upgrades, the demo showcased how V can simply rip open doorways with his bare hands and even rip off a heavy machine gun from its mount and shred through all the enemies.
#6. You can get hacked during a boss battle
There was a boss fight shown during the demo. Sasquatch, the leader of a gang called The Animals is armed with a giant hammer and she has a weak spot on her back depicted by a glowing light. The boss fight ensues in the usual fashion of dodging her powerful attacks and shooting her weak spot till it cuts her “juice”. When this happens, she gets too weak to hold up her hammer. This is usually the point where the player will be expecting her to change up her attack pattern, but instead, she plunges forward to and grabs V, pins him down and hacks him. V manages to break free shortly after, but a progress bar of the hack appears at the top of the screen for the rest of the fight, so it’s a case of beat her before the hack completes or die.
Having seen V getting hacked by an enemy lends for an interesting mechanic, which makes us wonder if this is a one-off incident with the boss fight, or whether CDPR plans to have more incidences where V is as vulnerable to hacking as the NPCs.
#7. It is possible to finish the game without killing anyone
As shared by CDPR during the demo, and seeing how the player can have full control on how to approach each mission objective, it is actually possible to complete the entire game without killing a single soul. It won’t be an easy task, but knowing CDPR, we’re pretty sure there will be an achievement or trophy tied to completing the game with zero kills. Or completing the game with kills by only using a stapler.
Cyberpunk 2077’s Night City looks to feature a gorgeous open world, with staggering attention. CDPR seems to have put together the best elements of Grand Theft Auto, Deus Ex, Watch Dogs and their own Witcher series to build a perfect blend of action, hacking, narrative and RPG systems. Having Keanu Reeves as a “Cortana” companion throughout the game gives it the extra icing of bad-assery seeing how he has “won E3” with his mere stage appearance during Microsoft’s Xbox Briefing at E3 2019.